Thursday, July 1, 2010

Independence Day/Le Fete Nationale

The 4Th of July is one of my favorite holidays and one close to my heart. My parents came to this country 28 years ago as immigrants from then, Communist Romania. The United States became their safe haven, their land of opportunity, freedom of religion....the American Dream.
I chose the Statue Of Liberty picture as a reminder of our friendship with France. Built by Frenchman, Frederick (also my 1st born's middle name) Auguste Bartholdi, it was a gift to the Americans to commemorate 100 Years of Independence. Also known as "Liberty Enlightening the World."

The French celebrate Bastille Day on July 14Th. We both love our Red, White, and Blue. Across the Ocean, there is a common thread. We all yearned for something better. A government "of the people, for the people, by the people." A truth that we struggle to protect to this day.



We are celebrating in Breckenridge this year. A charming mountain town 1 1/2 hrs away from Denver. Our children will proudly ride their bikes in the parade down Main Street, throwing enticing treats at their fellow tikes. I look forward to a much needed break from my daily routine in order to regroup and come back a healthier and happier me.
Bon weekend mes amis!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

I'm Still Here

To most it would seem as though I have given up on my Paris Dreams, but I haven't. I have been sick and still struggling to get well and so my French endeavors are on halt for the time being. It is difficult to fantasize about French food at the moment or saving for my trip when all of my savings are currently paying my doctor bills.

I apologize for the lack of posts but as soon as I am stronger and healthier, I will continue to pursue my vacation plans. Needless to say I did not win the France Sweepstakes.

I miss interacting with my blogger friends as they kept me entertained and educated, and I cannot wait to be swapping comments again soon.

Hope that you are all having a sweet scented summer........ full of adventures and mischief.

Au revoir mes amis!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

My mother & I in 1983! To all of my French pals "Joyeuse fête des mères".

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

France Sweepstakes


Is there even the slightest chance that I could win this Sweepstakes and not wait for my Paris Princess to oink out $20 Grand? Oh please God, let it be so! I have to come to the realization that my savings is on an average $80/month.....$960/year divided by $20,000....I will get there in about 20 Years. In which case those of you reading my "See You SOON Paris" Blog might feel a tad robbed, because you might not live long enough to see me get there.

Please pray for me, as I will be entering DAILY for a chance to win my ticket to France......and if you are dreaming of going to Paris too, I encourage you to ENTER (click her to go to site) as well. I wonder if I told Mimi's Cafe that I was promoting them, if my odds would increase???? Probably not! I just want to spread the "Word, Hummingbird."

As a *side note, I wanted to thank my Mother-In-Law Gail, for sending me this. She is an avid supporter and gave me something to blog about this week ;) Thanks Gail!!!!!!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Delicieux

Hope you all had a wonderful Easter.
Mine was a Yummy Treat!





First stop was Les Madeleines Patisserie, as I had mentioned in my previous post. I could not wait to get my hands on the Kouing Aman.



Les Madeleines is quite the buzzing joint in downtown Salt Lake City.
We admired all the stylish young gals with their perfect and trendy hairstyles.



Got my friend and I thinking about our own "do's"..........the one you all voted for was Look No. 3. I will ditch the sunglasses and maybe have my friend Couture Millinery help me with my choice of hats. As for the hair salon, I am considering the Franck Fann Coiffeur on 5 Rue d'Ormesson. He speaks English, which is a necessity for communicating about hair, and I hear he is a good hairstylist. OK, enough about hair.......back to pastries.

I met up with my family and we all enjoyed a cup of French coffee with a nibble of 7 desserts. They were miniature desserts full of flavor. The last time I sat around for hours, observing people, drinking coffee over good conversation, was New York City. It was a nostalgic and refreshing experience.



I was disappointed by the macarons. They were not bad, but not my favorite either. I am assuming it has something to do with where they were made.........in the States and not Paris. We will have to wait and see.



I did not try the "Paris Cupcake"....but who can resist a picture with anything that has the word Paris in it.




And then.....there was PERFECTION! Kouing Aman. Yes, they were caramelized on the outside, flaky on the inside, and sweet tenderness in the center. Thankfully they cost $4.95/each or I would have overdosed on these heavenly treats. I now have a "must eat" item in Utah.........



On Easter Sunday, my sister-in-law baked these multi-colored sponge cupcakes with "fluff" frosting. Another "must eat" when in Utah. My husband and I reminisced about them all the way back home....that's approximately 560 miles of sweet talk.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Vote for Look

I began growing my hair last year for Locks of Love. Now, that I am planning a trip to Paris, I thought it would be the perfect place to get a "New Do".

I created the looks below on iVillage and need your Votes! Which look will best suit me and give me a Parisian flare? I promise the winning look will be the one I hand the hairdresser.......







Hope you had as much fun choosing, as I did making these :)



Friday, March 19, 2010

French Stuff II

This Easter will be spent in Salt Lake City with my husband's family. I was besides myself when I saw a clip of Les Madeleines Patisserie on Food Network located........where else? Salt Lake City! They were featured for their Kouing Aman (pictured below) which is "a rich buttery pastry from Brittany. Try it once and you'll find yourself craving it again and again."

(photo from the Les Madeleines website)

Doesn't it look so flaky and crunchy and airy and beautiful! I can barely contain myself.

In addition, they sell Madeleines (hence the name) and macaroons. I have been drooling over macaroons on the Paris Breakfasts blog for months now....this will be an opportunity of a lifetime for me....well at least until I get to Paris.

I am also reading a book by Patricia Wells and her husband Walter called We've Always Had Paris....And Provence. I am three chapters into it at the moment. They met at the New York Times in NYC and moved to Paris on a whim for Walter's job. My favorite chapter thus far is called Rules, Rules and More Rules. It's referring to all the rules that the French live and breath by. Here are a few from the book:

1) The Orange Juice Trick: when the large crystal and silver pitcher filled with chilled orange juice would appear, it was time to go home. The host and hostess did not have to say a word.

As a side note, the Vitamin C helps counteract the alcohol and may even prevent hangovers, for it speeds up the metabolism of alcohol by the liver.

2) Parisian women do not wear bleu marine or Armani.

3) Do not have second servings of the cheese platter, because you are insulting the host's cooking. You may only have seconds of the first course and main course.

4) Women never pour their own wine.

5) And who gets served first? In this order: the women, then the guests of honor, the hostess, the men in order of descending age, the host, and finally, the children.

6) A woman's rank at the table: widows first, followed by a married woman, a divorced woman, a single woman. And single hostesses must never seat a man, either married or single, directly across from her. Single hosts must never sit across from a married woman if her husband is absent.

There it is folks. I gazed at my husband and asked him if it was even remotely possible to remember so many rules along with the language before our trip. He confidently assured me that we can........but......he cannot even aim him dirty clothes in the laundry basket, so I have my doubts.

(picture of Patricia Wells' cooking class in Paris...from the Patricia Wells site)

If I had $5000 to take a cooking class with Patricia Wells, I would in a heartbeat. She is booked solid a year in advance. Life turned out pretty sweet in Paris after all.

I have taken the next step into my "Francophilia" and subscribed to France the magazine. They claim it's the next best thing to living there....we'll have to see about that. All the research is tempting my husband and I into retiring somewhere in Europe........

Apres Vous is about Antoine saving Louis from committing suicide and ends up "adopting" him. Antoine gives him shelter, a job, and the spirit to go on even though Louis has been dumped by the love of his life, Blanche. In the process, Antoine falls in love with Blanche, while trying to convince her to go back to Louis.

A cheesy (no punt intended) romantic comedy that made me giggle at times. My favorite part was getting glimpses of Paris and the French countryside, along with the scrumptious dishes served in between scenes.

I wish you all a Bon Weekend!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

French Transportation

Today, we visited the Forney Museum of Transportation in Denver. It got me thinking about putting together a plan for when we visit France. What type of transportation will we use in Paris, Alsace, Burgundy, Provence, Monaco?


My first choice in Paris will be walking. Raised in NYC, I am used to walking from the Village to Midtown, across the bridge into Queens, an not even break a sweat. Why? When there is visual stimulation, the walk seems to go by in a flash.

In Denver....I drive my car to the mailbox! Why? There is nothing to look at on suburban streets. I envision Paris to be a lot like NYC.

My second choice, well, this Quad Bicycle would be a great start for a big family. According to my travel books (Great Sleeps Paris, Rick Steve's France, and Fodor's France) Fat Tire Bike Tours is highly recommended for a tour around Paris....and it comes with an English speaking guide to boot. They even offer day trips to Normandy and Monet's Giverny, which are both on my itinerary.

My third plan, Taxi Cabs. I never quite acquired my NY whistle, but I can hustle for one. I have no fear of running down a cab driving 80 mph on busy streets. Apparently, in Paris, cabs have to stop for you if their "taxi Parisien" light is on....similar to the Big Apple. A glowing orange light means go catch the bus.

However, being a family of five, we will be in need of the grand taxi. Our hotel will make those arrangements.

We will of course ride the Metro, on a daily basis, I am certain. "With 370 stations, the Paris metro system is one of the most efficient in the world." (Great Sleeps Paris)

(Forgive the flash in this photo.)

Once we part with Paris and head for the countryside, we are boarding the train. One can purchase a France Rail Pass which allows three days of unlimited train travel in one month.
Upon arrival in Alsace or Bordeaux, we need a savvy little French car to explore the hidden villages and countryside. Hmmmm, this one might be a tad small, but it's electric!

Car rentals can get quite spendy and the gas even spendier. However, it is unavoidable, since we desire the full experience of France. I want to drive on the wrong side of the car going at high speeds. I need to practice my French road rage. I haven't learned any "potty words" yet...I wonder if they offer a one day class just for that?

If the weather permits, and we want to show off our lovely locks flowing in the wind along the Nice boardwalk, I think this Harley Davidson would do....don't you?

Having a plan will give us a sense of stability and a good grasp on our budget, prior to arrival. I don't know what I would do without invaluable travel guides and my generous Parisian blogger friends who are so willing to help.

Other pertinent info:
Airport Taxis www.airportaxis.com

Les Taxis Bleus 08-91-70-10-10

SNCF (French national train system)

The Paris Gare de l’Est station
now provides transportation to major cities in Central Europe such as Zurich, Switzerland; Munich, Germany and Vienna, Austria.
Address: Place du 11 novembre 1918 75010 Paris

Gare de Lyon:
Trains to/from the southeast of France, The Alps, Provence, and Italy
Address: 20 boulevard Diderot, 75012 Paris

RATP for bus routes and info. click on the link or you can call 08-92-69-32-46 for information in English

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Paris Can You Handle Them?

Finances are just one of the challenges of going to Paris.
The second challenge? Entertaining three toddlers in a pristine city.

Paris, can you handle them?

My 1 1/2 year old.
I can definitely keep her entertained with food and sugar.
Biggest Concern: Everything else.

My 4 1/2 year old.
He will have a sweet eye for the French girls. He is my Casanova. I also know that Paris has enough fromage to go with his whine.
Biggest Concern: Throwing spit balls at the Mona Lisa
or taking a dive into the Seine during our boat ride.

My 6 1/2 year old.
Is there golfing in Paris? How about orca whales? Non?
Oh, I know, chocolat....oui, that will buy me some time.
Biggest Concern: He will wrestle his brother
inside the Notre-Dame or hop on the Metro without us.

I love my kids and for the most part they are well behaved, but not to French standards by any means. I could really relate to a passage in the book Paris Times Eight, by Deirdre Kelly, where she takes a moment to make the comparison between the Parisian children at the Jardin du Luxembourg with the children she was babysitting.

"That was where the other children of Paris were-never scattered in the street but enclosed in leafy green spaces where you could admire them, as you did the outdoor sculpture ringing the periphery. I stood by, watching the little girls in starched white dresses, patent shoes, and ribbons in their neatly plaited hair, little boys in seer sucker shorts, knee socks, and handsome cotton vests worn over their linen short-sleeved shirts."

"...I let the children run wild. I forbade them to read out of the doors. I dressed them in T-shirts and shorts. We looked like vagabonds, loitering around the large fountain pools, making smacking noises at the large gold carp swimming brightly beneath the surface. Christopher once threw a handful of sand into the pool, eliciting stares and hissing sounds."

My children's pediatrician got wind of the fact that we are planning to go to France and her suggestion....stay in Paris a couple of days and then take your kids to the beach in Nice or the Provence countryside. Fodor's France 2009 also recommends only 2 days of Paris with the rascals. I'm sorry but I will not be saving for 2 years to go visit Paris for 2 days.

Should I enlist my kids in an etiquette academy?


Should I send them to school in starched shirts and trousers?

Should I start sending them to bed during daytime so the time difference doesn't make them impossible?


Should I teach them to play an acoustic guitar and recite poetry simultaneously, so they feel at home in the artistic Parisian cafes?


Should I sign them up for oil painting classes in order for them to appreciate the works of Monet?


If I can conjure up the perfect balance and come back from Paris feeling successful, I will definitely write my own book called

Mini-Paris: A Child's Point Of View.




Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Pardon My French

What to do when you cannot afford a French Tutor quite yet or follow those French In A Day CD's? Go to the children's section. Oui! I might be a thirty something, but my French is that of an minor. I enjoy the French For Children book, because it's fun! I can color, fill in the blanks, sing a song. And it has my own children engaged in my Parisian Mania.

Here is my version of Lesson 1. For all the French natives out there or Francophiles.........Pardon my French.

Bonjour. "Hello"
Salut "Hi."

Ca va? "Are you OK?"
Oui, ca va! "Yes, fine."

Je m'appelle Corine. "My name is Corine."
Comment t'appelles-tu? "What is your name?"

Excusez-moi. "Excuse me."
Pardon. "Excuse me."

Bon soir. "Good evening."
Bonne nuit. "Good night."

I want to be in Paris and show that I respect the culture and the language. I do not want to go on my vacation assuming, that everyone will accomodate my English.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My French "Stuff"

Meet my Paris Princess!

She is the key to my future...the one that holds all the coins to my adventures. I have a goal of raising $20,000.00 to go on my dream trip to Paris and other parts of France. Don't forget that includes plane tickets for my three children and husband too. I need to make sure I feed my Paris Princess daily. She is much more sophisticated than me and has a shiny disposition.

Thus far, she has ingested $60, which is a long way from the ultimate goal. But she will take what she can get for now, as long as she isn't forgotten.

I also have upgraded my grocery bags.....well, not I......my friend rather. She purchased this marvelous montage of Parisian scenery (The Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame Cathedral, The Eiffel Tower, The Louvre and its pyramid) for me. Isn't it magnificent? The cashiers also enjoy the view as they fill it up with legumes. It's so much more grand than the Supermarket Logo bags. The fuchsia outline adds a touch of elegance too. Tres chic!

And lastly, we must not forget the most important reason to go to Paris, the food. Wether it's to experience the nouvelle cuisine inspired by liberated French chefs or a rustic French dish in Burgundy cooked by a more traditional chef. I enjoy both. The closest I have come to the perfect meal is at the French Laundry in California. I obsessed over reserving a table to experience the genius of Thomas Keller.

French Feasts by Stephane Reynaud is unique, practical, comforting, humorous, educational, simply sensational. My husband and I drooled on every page.....except for the one below.

I am open to a lot of daring foods, except for snails. I have tried, really I have, but as with darling bunny rabbits, I cannot ingest something I was so fond of as a little girl. I will leave that up to the frog (which I have eaten).



Sunday, February 14, 2010

Homeless In Paris

On Valentine's Day, I had the honor of spending a few moments with Homeless Teenagers. Teens who are on the streets because of abuse, mental disorders, disowned by their families, etc. We all have our opinions about why someone ends up on the street. You don't really understand the reality of it until you ask!

Teens are stuck in the middle. They are not adults and therefore the help they get is so extremely limited. They cannot enter an adult shelter because they need parental consent. Well, what if that parent is developing Meth in the house or sexually abused the child? Is that the consent we are seeking? Would they even have the correct judgement to make when it comes to their child's well being? What these kids need is people who will step up and aid them in becoming functioning adults with jobs and a stable mindset.

The only thing that they all requested were sleeping bags. A softer and warmer place to sleep than the city concrete.

It had me questioning what the Homeless situation is in Paris? Do they have a better set up for the homeless population? Does this problem even exist in my city of dreams? The answer is a resounding "yes".

I came across various articles (click here to read one) from 4 years ago when the Medecins du Monde handed out 300 tents for the homeless to set up along the Canal Saint-Martin, Paris to draw attention. It worked! The effort shamed officials into spending more of their budget on creating hostel beds for the homeless. The tents diminished the breathtaking Parisian views and they wanted to resolve the problem swiftly. What has happened since? I am uncertain.

I would love to hear from my Parisian friends on the current status. Is it quite evident? Did the government step forward? Did it all fall through the cracks? What was the end result?

As for me, today really opened my eyes to a real travesty in my country, the USA. I cannot comprehend the lack of assistance for these Teens that already have enough to deal with just being their age. They need us to put our judgements aside and educate them about sound choices in life.VKU5F8D3G63E

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

10 Year Anniversary

My husband and I are celebrating our 10 Year Anniversary tomorrow. We plan on spending the next decade in Europe, beginning with France.

Isn't this the perfect card? The inside reads, "I am still hog wild over you." If only we were those oinkers at this very moment.

I was however shocked to read in a book called When in France, Do As The French Do, that France has the lowest per capita marriage rate in Europe. How is that possible? Isn't France where love blossoms in public? Where you are lost in time making out at the outdoor cafes? Is that where it all ends? No one ever makes it to the altar?

Well Paris........I still adore your art, your food, your fashion, but it seems like I will have some lessons for you when it comes to tying the knot.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

French Dinner Trois

The favorite part of my week is when I get to cook French food. I opted for a fresh and luxurious Salad Nicoise this time around. Inspired by Tyler Florence's recipe on The Food Network website. I will never use canned tuna or jarred capers for this salad again. The seared tuna ($22/lb.) and caper berries made this an absolutely delectable dish. We had so much fun picking at it for an hour, while sipping wine and having a conversation about Paris!
For dessert, I baked a Tarte Fine Aux Pommes inspired by the French Food & Cook site. Excellent crust recipe. It's easy to make in your Cuisinart and spread inside the pie dish. It comes out crisp on the outside and cake like on the inside. The pie is tart, which is so complimentary with a scoop of sweet vanilla ice cream. Magnificent!
It was a lovely time with our lovely friend. We discussed our plans to visit Europe in extensive detail, which lead us to the conclusion that maybe, we should just move there for a couple of years.

Au revoir....'Til Next Time!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

French Doodle

Today, I was daydreaming! Daydreaming about the day I arrive in Paris and go to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Wearing a cute dress, with a cute purse, and cute pumps, and my new French do. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

I sat around doodling all day. Not productive, I know. It was a great escape from the whaling children in the background. I just realized that my family is not in my doodles. Ooooops! Pardon......you too are there, I promise, just not today. Today it's just me.

Can you tell where I got the inspiration for my Eiffel Tower photo? I was so thrilled to get the chance to read this to my 16 month old daughter. She ran off after the first sentence, but as for me, I was right there with Madeline, in Paris.

Poor Madeline, she had to have her appendix removed. So sad! Don't worry Madeline, you live in France, everything will be just fine. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh......


After Madeline recovered, of course, I moved on to my next project....more French doodle. I drew a map of France (my apologies), and fantasized where else we could drive our Peugeot rental once we were satisfied with all that Paris had to offer.


Normandy, Strasbourg, the entire Alsace region, and move our way through Switzerland, Italy, ...............I think I need a personal sponsor. Any offers? I promise to use your money wisely and come back with none.


I scored this book at the library for 50 cents. Can you believe it? This book is going with me to Paris. It has everything you need to know about traveling wisely. How to reserve a room in French, taxi cab numbers, the monthly weather, maps, hotels, hostels, vacation rentals, spas, bike tours, the list goes on and on. It's written by Sandra Gustafson. A must for Americans like us.


I am continuing my education, with a new book called French: Learn In 4 Simple Steps (about 420 pgs. of simple steps). It covers the basics, words, phrases, sentences, and conversations. I am up to the Introduction: The Alphabet. One step at a time. I have two years to practice.

Lastly, I also checked this book out by Deidre Kelly, who writes about her eight visits to Paris. I will post more on this book once I actually begin reading it. As for now, I need to get back to my artistic ways.

Au revoir......'Til next time!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

French Dinner Deux

Is it possible to cook French on a budget? The answer is: Oui!

I did not want to go out shopping for too many groceries for French Night. At the end of the month, it's usually the end of our finances too. I rummaged through my fridge to see what I had and planned a simple, but still tasty French menu.

I marinated the chicken legs with rosemary, oregano, thyme, minced garlic & olive oil for two hours in the fridge. Baked it in the oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hr. 20 mins. I love the smell and taste of fresh herbs. The French are known for utilizing their local herbs to enhance the food.

For the side dish, I baked a Vegetable Tian (recipe by Barefoot Contessa). I served dinner with real French Baguette not the one from Sams.......... and what would dinner be without French wine?

I bought a bottle of French Press simply because....well.....the Eiffel Tower! To my surprise I quite enjoyed this wine. Smooth and easy to drink. I might just keep the label.
To finish off all the goodness last evening, I served Ile Flottante (floating island) also by the Barefoot Contessa. Rich, sweet, frothy, creamy, crunchy floating island that I wouldn't mind diving into daily. But I am watching my mid-drift.......

Every time we dine on French food, the anticipation of going to Paris to experience the authentic cuisine increases. We are in the process of finding the largest Piggy Bank online to start saving for our trip, which we estimated would cost at least $10K to got to Europe with 3 kids and stay for 3 weeks. Estimated time of departure, 2 years. Paris in the Fall!